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Kirsty writes regularly here

Posts Tagged family

The Seven Circles – Relationships

Many people go in and out of our lives. Some stay for a while and some are gone in a blink of an eye. Some raise hell and others raise our spirits. Many teach us what we need to learn at the time, whilst others seem to be of little consequence.

Have you ever wondered who fits where? Have you ever struggled with people’s changing attitudes and behaviours? Have you ever hung on to a toxic relationship or friendship for too long? Are your thoughts cluttered with trying to ‘work out’ where others are at, or why they made ‘that’ comment in ‘that’ tone? Have you trusted someone you wish you hadn’t? Are you unsure who is ‘your tribe’? I may have the solution.

Over two decades ago a teacher of mine shared with me The Seven Circles. At the time, I was struggling in a deteriorating marriage and had some toxic friendships to compliment it; and to top it all off, a couple of family members where behaving badly. This exercise changed my perspective and lifted me out of the draining situations, gave me clarity, and allowed me to make better choices with my time and energy. Since then I sit down and fill in my circles every year, or when I feel I am beginning to get drawn into others dramas.

Here is a graphic of the seven circles explaining what each circle represents:


You can print The Seven Circles up here, including a blank one for you complete.

I would love to hear your findings, and how The Seven Circles supported you to create more clarity around those you choose to share time and energy with. After all, “We become who we hang around.”

Kirsty 🙂

Posted in: Mindfulness, Parenting, Resilience

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Separated by Work at Easter

Separated by work at easterIt is a time of chocolate, celebration, reflection, family gatherings, holiday activities, fun and extra days off work. Easter means different things to different families – the common thread is gathering together and sharing.

For those that are separated by work, there is someone missing from these gatherings and missing out on making these memories.

And to add more pressure to the mix – those parents that are at home with school aged children will be tearing their hair out as their burden of doing it all on their own is magnified during school holidays. They will be listening to friends and other family members talk about their holidays, getaways and planned family events – and listening to the sympathetic statements of, “oh you poor thing,” and, “I don’t know how you do it, I couldn’t / wouldn’t,” and, “that puts a lot on you and the kids.” Generally you do not hear, “how can I help out,” or, “do you want to join us,” or, “are you ok?”

So how can I help you? How can I help make Easter and the school holidays that bit better and easier for you and your family?

I have been separated by work for over seven years. My husband currently works in W.A. and we live in Queensland. This year he leaves to go back to site on Easter Sunday at 6 a.m. We feel lucky to have him here for half of Easter – it is the first Easter for two years he has been home at all.

Over the last seven years I have found out what works for us, and discovered many things that don’t. Here are my five top tips for you this Easter as you connect and share from afar –

  • Stop and take a moment to understand where your partner is at mentally and emotionally – and then choose your words and communication strategy wisely. Consider, if you are the one at home, your partner is away from their family, feeling very isolated and alone. They are missing special moments and not able to be with their family when a lot of their mates are taking time off work and spending it doing ‘fun stuff.’ Consider, if you are the one away, your partner is missing you, experiencing extra pressure and demands of their time, out of routine, and going on outings with kids in tow and trying to make it fun as they can – all while they watch everyone else with their partners enjoying it together.
  • Make up things to do on Skype together. For example, can you sit down and colour in with the kids, make up jokes, do projects, and pre-plan hiding Easter eggs and you read out the clues? You can get creative. Could the children write you stories – made up or real – and read them to you? Seeing your face, your smile and hearing your laugh can feel like you are really there, especially to kids.
  • Re-frame the blame. It is easy to get caught up in thinking and speaking about how hard it is, how it sucks, how challenging this life can be, how the kids won’t settle, how lonely it is, what if, and the like. Re-frame the blame means to turn it around and think about all the times you are together when others aren’t. Why you are doing this type of work and living arrangement. Why you are making these sacrifices now, so that in the future…
  • Seek out the support you need. If you are on site that could be mates or colleagues who are going through the same thing – talk about it, share your thoughts and boost each other up. If you are at home seek out family members, friends and community groups to help you when you need it.
  • Plan and organise the time. Instead of just staying at home, look up local events in your area. A lot of council events are free for school holiday activities. Are there groups you may be able to join? What are your friends up to – can you plan play dates? Where can you go in your region that would be fun for you and the kids? When is the best time to make phone calls, Skype and connect with your partner? What surprises could you arrange for each other?

I will leave you now with one of my favourite stories from when I was interviewing people for my book, Separated by Work – I came across a particularly thoughtful FIFO worker –

“My closest friend, Gail, works with a lady whose partner works two weeks away and one week home. During one of his swings away, her daughter became ill and was hospitalised for a few days. One morning after a very stressful week, she was talking to her partner on Skype and he asked if there was anything he could do, anything at all. She jokingly said you could cook dinner tonight. They both laughed. That night after she got home from work, there was a knock at the door at 6 p.m. She walked to the door wondering who would be there at that time of the evening. She opened the door, and to her surprise, there stood the Domino’s pizza delivery boy with dinner – organised by her partner. When I heard this story, it bought a tear to my eye. It shows how we can all think outside of the box, listen to our partner’s needs and not be limited by FIFO.”

Excerpt From: Kirsty O’Callaghan. “SEPARATED BY WORK.

Happy Easter to you all, Kirsty 🙂



Posted in: Parenting, Separated by Work

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If you’ve found yourself putting off important tasks over and over again, you’re not alone. Most people procrastinate to some degree.  Is procrastination stopping you fulfilling your potential and unsettling your life?

You procrastinate when you put off things that you could be, or know you should be, focusing on right now, usually in favour of doing something that is more enjoyable or that you’re more comfortable doing.

Putting off an unimportant task isn’t necessarily procrastination; it may just be good prioritization! If you have a good reason for rescheduling something important, then you’re not necessarily procrastinating. However, if you’re just “making an excuse” because you really just don’t want to do it, then you are.

The key to taking back control is to recognize when you start procrastinating, understand why it happens and take active steps to manage your time and outcomes better. To have a good chance of conquering procrastination, you need to be aware straight away that you’re doing it. Then you can identify why you’re procrastinating and take appropriate steps to overcome the block.

Here are my 6 P’s for creating a new habit of action rather than non-action or avoidance:-

  1. PAY OFF – Establish and brainstorm what are the great things      that you will get once this is done.       WHY is it important to you?
  2. PEOPLE TO TELL AND PROMISE – Name your task and put a deadline      on it, then tell someone or a group of people and promise to have it      finished and ask for their support.       This creates an atmosphere of accountability and is a psychological      incentive for you to complete what you have been putting off.
  3. PREPARE AND HAVE A PROCESS – Prepare all that you need to get      this task done and have a list, diary and a process.  Are you going to do it all, in what      order, or are you going to break it down into smaller tasks?
  4. PAY ATTENTION – Be completely present with this task, no      breaks, no interruptions, and no distractions.
  5. PRACTISE – just keep following this guide on all tasks you      feel overwhelmed by or struggle to complete.  You don’t have to get it perfect,      practise will allow you to just do it and create a new habit of work/task      completion.
  6. PRAISE & CELEBRATE – Give yourself a big pat on the back      and reward each time you achieve your goal.  This will encourage you to keep going      forward.

One of my most favourite action steps is to aim to “eat an elephant beetle” first thing, every day; which means conquering your hardest, least desirable task first thing in the morning so you don’t have to carry the load in your mind around with you all day.

Get started today and kick procrastination to the kerb! Kirsty 🙂

Posted in: Business, Mindfulness, Resilience

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In the Pursuit of Happiness & Health have we forgotten the most important Relationship?

Emerging research suggests a strong peer network in the workplace and having close and supportive relationships personally and intimately helps individuals live longer and can increase happiness and health by 80%.

Researchers from Flinders University, found that people with the highest number of close friends outlived those with the least friends by 22 % – on average, living to the age of 79, compared to 65.

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data on death rates shows people living in intimate relationships (including those in married and de facto relationships); – both men and women – have lower death rates than single people in almost all age groups. A 2009 study from Harvard Medical School found that the more friends’ women had, the less likely they were to develop physical impairments as they aged, and the more likely they were to lead joyful lives.

I am seeing more and more clients suffering from stress, emotional issues, and physical illness and overwhelm than ever before.  The surprising link I am finding is the increase in the breakdown in having close and trusted relationships in our society today from home to workplace is a huge contributing factor. Most people who are finding difficulty creating healthy relationships with others admit to not knowing or even liking themselves and continuously put themselves in a position of being put down and criticized, which is having a dramatic impact on their health, happiness and success.

Having a hand to hold as you go through life makes the difficulties we all experience easier to deal with. When things go awry, knowing that your friends, partners, family members and co-workers have your back allows you to go through whatever you have to and come out the other side a more positive person.

Recent studies are showing that there is a link between the increase in depression, social isolation, stress and hostility in our society and the breakdown of supportive relationships.

The road has been bumpy and long to get to the point of this social and relationship crisis, and with more people reaching out and searching for answers I have been driven for over a decade to create awareness and educate people to be able to create excellent relationships that support them to excel personally and professionally.

The system and process I have created and teach to others incorporates wisdom from my own experiences and the Blue Zones by writer and explorer Dan Buettner, who has spent his life traveling the world in search of answers. Buettner argues that relationships are really the key to lifelong happiness, noting that “the happiest people socialize about seven hours a day,” and that “you’re three times more likely to be happy if you are married … and each new friend will boost your happiness about 10 percent.” He also states how important good relationships can be in the workplace, adding that “the biggest determinant of whether or not you’ll like your job is if you have a best friend there, more so than how much you’re paid.”

It has been said that you are the average of the 5 people you are around the most.  Your results will reflect this average from career, lifestyle, health, happiness, home, beliefs and even holidays.  I have seen people achieve the most extraordinary results in all these areas from becoming aware of this, making changes and consciously creating and embracing more meaningful and supportive relationships personally and professionally.

Surround yourself in people who uplift you and inspire you, search for those people, be your own best friend and be open to being loved and showing how much you care for others.  Your health and happiness is determined by these connections, so make it a priority for you today.

Kirsty 🙂

Posted in: Mindfulness, Resilience

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Are you Mindful to practise Mindfulness?


Mindfulness is a form of self-awareness that focuses our attention on the task at hand. – A moment by moment awareness. When we are mindful, our attention is not caught up in the past or future, and we are not judging or rejecting what is occurring at the moment. –  We are present.

This kind of attention creates acceptance, energy, clear-headedness and a feeling of joy.  I have found it is a skill that can be learned and cultivated by anyone.

When you have a mindfulness practise in place some examples of what you will experience are:

  • Having a better relationship with stuff that is happening
  • Being aware
  • Being more flexible
  • Experience a Relaxed state more
  • Not being stuck in the past, fear or worries
  • A Stronger immune system
  • More energy
  • More happiness
  • Management of anxiety and depression
  • Have the skills to overcome overwhelm
  • Creating a positive and calm experience of daily life
  • Paying close attention, on purpose, right now, without judgement in your life.
  • Being in the moment for what it is, not a reaction or prediction.
  • Body Regulation & Better Health
  • Better Communication
  • Emotional Balance
  • Insight
  • Empathy
  • Creativity & Intuition enhanced
  • Resilience
  • Feelings of Stability
  • Kindness & Compassion
  • Non-Reactivity or you Act and not React

Mindfulness has been adapted for use in treatment of depression, especially preventing relapse, anxiety disorders, stress, behaviour problems, interpersonal conflict, confusion, despair and for assisting with mood regulation.

The potential of these mindfulness and acceptance based approaches have bought in a new wave of cognitive behavioural treatments for familiar problems.

Everyday do a mindful ‘self-check’. You only have right now. Use it to its best advantage. Mindfulness trains you to become aware of what is going on inside you and how your inner world of thoughts and feelings are reacting to the events that are taking place in the world around you.

When you develop this kind of awareness, you will be more aware of inner disturbances if they arise, and therefore more able to take steps to maintain a positive outlook if they do.

Often, stress and anxiety build up over a period of time because we are not paying attention to what is going on inside us.

How do your thoughts and words impact how you feel?

How do your emotions unconsciously drive your behaviours?

Without conscious awareness of these subtleties we have very little chance of changing them. With awareness and mindfulness we have the opportunity to determine the amount of happiness and joy in our life. As we become self-aware we have the opportunity to make choices instead of just react from habit or negative emotions.

A quick mindfulness exercise is S.T.O.P.

  • Stop,
  • Take a Breath,
  • Observe what you are feeling and thinking,
  • Proceed and Participate in what is most important.

Be mindful and watch your life expand to become extraordinary.  Kirsty

Posted in: Mindfulness

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Picking your state and intention for the day – YOU GET TO CHOOSE!

Do you just get up every morning, head hung low, would rather be back in bed? Do you just get up and start going through your morning routine, putting one foot in front of the other? Do you wonder where your motivation,let alone inspiration have gone?

I have realised that beginning the day with no clear direction, no high expectations and on automatic pilot does not get me the results I want or need. I am going to share with you a couple of tricks to get you feeling more energetic andinspired each day.

Know your overall picture/goals for the next couple of years. It always brings more meaning to your life when you know where you are headed. Where do you see yourself in 2 years’ time? What is happening? Who is with you? How are you feeling? What are you doing? Remember, it’s not what you don’t want, it is what you would like to work towards and where you want to be.

Once you know where it is and what you want, pick a state that suits this part of your life. Is it happy, healthy, open, engaging, pumped, peaceful, in control,respecting and respected, grateful, confident, valued, or the like? Once you know the state that feels right, get in that state from right now. Remind yourself constantly I am……. today.

Set your intention for each day. What do you intend to do, to be, to achieve,to overcome, to create? Know this, write it down and begin.

Try this for the next month. I will guarantee you will see your life become more enjoyable, you will get more meaningful things done and you will move away from what you don’t want because you are too busy getting what you do want and enjoying yourself!

Posted in: Business, Mindfulness, Resilience

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What worth do you put on you?

This is one of my favourite ‘thinking’ stories.Isn’t it funny how sometimes a simple metaphor can put things in perspective.  I wanted to share this today to inspire you to feel your worth no matter how ‘crumpled’ and ground down with life you may feel.  As you go into the next year, let go of your limiting perceptions and embrace your true worth and who you are, that is the place of miracles!

A $100 Dollar Bill Author Unknown

“A well known speaker started off his  seminar by holding up a $100 bill.  In the  room of 200, he asked.  “Who would like this $100 bill?”

Hands started going up. He said,  “I am going to give this $100  to one of you –  but first, let me do this.”

He proceeded to crumple the  100 dollar note up. He then asked.  “Who still  wants it?” Still the hands  were up in the air.

“Well,” he replied,  “what if I do this?” He dropped it on  the ground and started to grind it  into the floor with his shoe.  He picked it up, now crumpled and dirty.  “Now, who still wants it?” Still the hands  went into the air.

“My friends, you have all learned  a very valuable lesson.  No matter what I  did to the  money, you still wanted it because  it did not decrease in value. It  was  still worth $100.

Many times in our lives, we are dropped , crumpled, and ground into the dirt   by the decisions we make and the circumstances  that come our way.

We feel as  though we are worthless;  but no matter what happened or what will  happen, you will never lose your value.

Dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased,  you are still priceless to God and to those who  love you.

The worth of our lives comes, not in  what we do, what we have or who we know,  but by…WHO WE ARE.

You are so special in all the world  there is only one you — don’t ever forget it.

Remember, you may be only one person in  the world, but you may also be the world  to one person.”

Posted in: Business, Resilience

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Understanding and Overcoming Workplace Stress

Workplace stress complaints are becoming more common.  The effects of enduring stress at work may result in:-

  • Feeling anxious, irritable, or depressed
  • Boredom and a loss of interest in work
  • Problems sleeping
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble concentrating or remembering things
  • Muscle tension or headaches
  • Illness
  • Social withdrawal
  • Loss of energy
  • Using alcohol or drugs to cope

In workplaces where stress is an issue there are higher rates of absenteeism and staff turnover, reduced productivity, increased customer dissatisfaction and increased health compensation claims.

Common workplace stressors (however, not limited to):-

  • How secure you feel in your job
  • Your workload is too much or there is constant distractions
  • You have no say in your workload, the work you are asked to do or there is confusion over priorities, deadlines or standards
  • Your job does not offer you flexibility and you cannot balance work and home life
  • Your work is boring or not stimulating you
  • You have too little or too much contact with people while doing your job
  • Your job negatively impacts your physical health or there is the threat of physical danger
  • You don’t have supportive relationships with co-workers, supervisors and/or clients.  You may feel the victim of bullying, intimidation or inappropriate ‘humour’
  • You don’t have a clear understanding of what is expected of you. There is minimum praise, feedback and positive conversations about areas of improvement
  • Any changes are not communicated effectively and encouragingly
  • There are no or little opportunities and support for training, learning and career development

The causes of stress can be many and varied and each person will experience and deal with stressful situations differently.  The key is to acknowledge that unless you take action this will adversely impact your productivity, relationships, health and wellbeing.

Tips for dealing with, managing and reducing stress:-

  • Take care of yourself so that you are more resilient and stress resistant.
    • Be mindful of eating to promote your health, strength and energy.
    • Drink enough water each day to keep hydrated.
    • Exercise regularly, even a short walk in a park at lunch time will be of benefit.
    • Get enough quality sleep, so that you can recover from the pressures of the day and feel more energised each morning.
    • Have a relaxation practise where you can relax your whole body and release any tension in your muscles.
    • Take time during your day to take some deep breaths.  Shallow breathing tells your body it is stressed where as deep breathing sends the message that you are calm.
  • Be organised and focused to minimise overwhelm.
    • Have a diary and lists of priorities.
    • Don’t over commit yourself or attempt to multi task.
    • Include regular breaks/downtime. This time is important; it does not take away from your productivity, you will find this time increases your output at work and in your personal life.
    • If you are unable to complete a task, ask for help, delegate or approach your supervisor or client and suggest another way to get task completed.  Don’t leave it till it is too late.
    • Take the ‘elephant beetle’ approach – if you are feeling a task is unpleasant or concerning you, get it out of the way first thing.  Minimise procrastination.
  • Cultivate and encourage a good relationship with yourself and others.
    • Recognise your stressors and your emotions.  The trick to managing stress is identifying triggers before they have a chance to affect your results.
    • Have a positive attitude and laugh regularly, a sure fire way to reduce the pressure build up.
    • Share your thoughts and feelings with someone you trust.  Keep specific rather than generalise about the issues and situations you find challenging.
    • If you are unsure, ask. If you think you have missed something, clarify.  If you need help…. Ask.
    • Notice and give praise for good work performance, to yourself and others in your workplace.  There are always opportunities to recognise a job well done.
    • If you would like opportunities for professional development, actively seek workplace policy on this.  If there is none, find out if one could be developed, and point out the benefit to the business and yourself.
    • Be a part of social interaction in the workplace.  Keep it appropriate and positive.
  • Be clear on the values and direction of your workplace and how working there benefits you.  There is a reason you are there, focus on that rather than the things that get you down.

Kirsty 🙂

Posted in: Business, Resilience

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Quick tips for Balancing work/home life for parents.

The concerns, pressures and just plain overwhelm that seem to go hand in hand with working parent’s lives will affect your whole being.  It affects how you feel, how you behave and has the potential to create very real physical symptoms.

At first these feelings may be just vague and unsettling, and you may find yourself saying “I just need to get used to the new routine and handing over the kids to someone else, then I’ll be OK”.

However, what happens if you don’t address the real issues and solutions, and when the appropriate time has passed and you are not coping with the ‘new routine’, the kids aren’t coping with the new situation, does that leave you feeling guilty or like you can’t get it right; or worse you are a failure?

So let’s get real about it now.  Being a working parent creates stress triggers at some point in our day to day lives. Some of us are more vulnerable to these stressors than others, but even those who become stressed easily can learn to manage it well.  It is the stress that is the problem not being a working parent.

OK, so what can you do to manage the stress and feel better?

  • Keep an eye on pressures and deadlines and make a commitment to taking time out when you need it.
  • Learn a variety of relaxation techniques. Physical relaxation methods and meditation techniques really do help.
  • Look after your physical self. Eat healthily, get regular exercise and try to keep a regular sleep pattern. Avoid too much alcohol, caffeine and junk food.
  • Practise deep abdominal breathing. This consists of breathing in deeply and slowly through your nose, taking the air right down to your tummy. Visualise the breathe going right down to your tummy and say “I am calm” to yourself as you breathe in. Then breathe out slowly and gently through your mouth. As you breathe out visualise the stress and tension leaving your body with your breath.
  • Learn to replace “negative self-talk” with “coping self-talk.” When you catch yourself thinking something negative like “I can’t do this, it’s just too hard,” try to change it to something more positive, like “This is hard but I can get through it.”

Being a working parent can have its ups and downs, and comes with added responsibilities.  However if you are organised, communicate positively to your family on a regular basis, laugh and have an awareness of your needs your will certainly be on the right track to feeling back in control, confident and finding the elusive work/life balance you have been seeking.

Posted in: Business, Parenting, Resilience

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